Justin Blackman was the only student out of 700 at North Carolina charter school to get up and leave on National Walkout Day. He thought only a few people would catch the video he posted on Twitter Wednesday, March 14 but instead, the clip has garnered 4.6 million views.
“Hello, Twitter. There’s gonna be like, six people watching this, hopefully,” the 16-year-old says. “But it’s National Walkout Day and I’m the only one in my school out here.”
Blackman, who was in Spanish class, said his teacher “didn’t really care” that he stepped outside the doors of Wilson, N.C.’s Wilson Preparatory Academy. And only his homeroom teacher mentioned he stepped out.
“I felt surprised because I was expecting at least one or two people to come outside with me,” he tells “CNN Tonight” Wednesday. “But then in first period, my teacher said he doesn’t think that I should go out he thinks I should write a letter it would be more powerful but I guess the video was more powerful.”
“It was important [for me to walk out] because the 17 people that died, they can’t protest for anything anymore and I can,” he adds said of the victims of the Parkland, Fla., shooting. “So now that I have this platform that I have now to be able to use the voice that I have, I’m going to do the same thing I would like people of a bigger platform to do and that’s speak.”
His mother, Megan Blackman, told CNN she wasn’t surprised by her son’s actions.
“Justin is very opinionated,” she said. “He’s not a follower. Strong minded.”
“We teach our students to be independent thinkers,” said Wilson Preparatory Academy public relations person Janet Conner-Knox Wilson. “[Blackman] is an independent thinker.”
After learning Blackman was the lone student, fellow students and teachers congratulated him and vowed to join in next month’s walk out.
“We are going to do it again on the 14th and they all said ‘next month we are going to do it too.'”
As a result of Blackman’s viral video, many have been praising the student, who has set up a GoFundMe to raise funds for college. They include celebrities like “A Wrinkle In Time” director Ava DuVernay and “Orange Is the New Black” star Danielle Brooks.
"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy ." – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. #NationalWalkoutDay https://t.co/sBtJ0II6YG
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 14, 2018
Sometimes you have to stand alone, but keep standing!! @justinlblackman Proud of your courage.
— Danielle Brooks (@thedanieb) March 14, 2018
Hi Justin I’m a student at Stoneman Douglas. I’m inspired by you for being a leader. Thank you Every little thing makes a difference
— Lexi #NEVERAGAIN (@LexiLBBH) March 14, 2018
The highest of fives to you for daring to stand alone. You have my full support and respect.
— InternationalMookie (@mookiemueller) March 14, 2018
Thank you for your courage @JustinBlackman!! Keep fighting the good fight. History will remember you
— Tiffany Tenille (@Tiffany_Tenille) March 14, 2018
— Justin Blackman (@JustinIBlackman) March 14, 2018